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St. Noire: An Alexa-Hosted Cinematic Board Game

Company: X2 Games

Category: Gaming


Created by Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, and Zai Ortiz, a Hollywood creative director, St. Noire is the world’s first Alexa-powered murder mystery board game that features multiple storylines and endings, immersive sound design, and cinematic voice performances from more than a dozen voice actors.

Players solve the murder mystery in the small town of St. Noire before the killer gets away, finding clues, questioning suspects and examining locations to crack the case within seven nights.

With multiple storylines, each game is randomized, meaning no two games are the same and a player can continue to play multiple times with different experiences.

Artificial intelligence (AI)-hosted, the game has a physical board and tokens, but it is driven by voice commands through Amazon Alexa, though her voice is replaced by that of voice actors. Players question suspects via Alexa, such as where the suspects were on the night of the murder, who they saw or other evidence-uncovering questions. Players use the board and tokens to keep track of the case, merging traditional game formats and cutting-edge technology.


The Tech Behind It

By simply starting with “Alexa, open St. Noire,” players can start a game. Given only one clue, the cause of death of the victim, the player must use voice commands through Alexa to question suspects, in the form of “Alexa, question Mayor Alves” or another suspect’s name.

With over 2,500 lines of recorded spoken dialogue for the suspects to react differently to questions in each game, players are able to enjoy an immersive experience.

Bushnell and Ortiz recognized the potential in smart speaker technology and saw that it was only being used for more narrowly focused applications, such as web searches, weather reports and trivia games. The two wanted to create a project that highlighted the capabilities of a technology with which players would already be familiar.

“We believe there is an immense power in the social aspect of gaming,” said the X2 Games team. “We are transforming the board game landscape, as well as pushing the boundaries of what smart speaker gaming means,” Ortiz said.

See St. Noire at the CES 2020 Innovation Awards Showcase.

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